Halftime is very a fan-driven event across sports. The entertaining break from game action lets teams rest and regroup, while fans hit the concession stand or soak in halftime shows. Because of that, it has become an ideal place for teams to bring in entertainment that could bring more fans into their seats and fill the void between the second and third quarters. Halftime during practice, though? That might seem insane. However, Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury is incorporating it into the preseason practices.
Kliff Kingsbury doing things differently with the Cardinals
Kliff Kingsbury is a rookie coach who is looking to invoke his strategies. Not only is he incorporating these halftimes, he is trying to win over players by allowing cellphone breaks during practices as a means to keep their attention when they’re playing. He’s had playing experience as both a college player and an NFL one, and he’s had success as a college coach as well.
These strategies are a far cry from the notoriously hard-headed ways of former coach Bruce Arians, but it doesn’t necessarily make them strange, or even pointless. Still, halftime at practice seems wild, although Kingsbury may not be the mad man that people think him to be when they hear this.
Halftime at practice?
No, Kingsbury isn’t bringing in performers to entertain his players during the halfway point of practice. Reporters began noticing that the players were taking time out of practice to snack on fruit and drinks that were brought out onto the field. They began to call it a snack break, something that Kingsbury quickly corrected.
“It’s halftime,” he told a group of reporters while reportedly sipping from a juice box. “It’s not a snack break.”
The gist of this practice halftime is this. Workers from the team bring out snacks and drinks from which the players partake. The point is to replenish nutrients and fuel the players so that they can go even harder near the end of the practice. “A lot of it is player safety, hydrating, and keeping those guys fed,” Kingsbury said.
It may be easy to laugh and joke and compare these breaks to the oranges and the juice slices we received after sporting events as a kid, but the nutritional benefits behind both check out. There are more than nutritional benefits to using this strategy, however.
Strategic advantages for the Cardinals?
Former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians once noted that most soft-tissue injuries occurred during the second half of practice, so fueling up and resting for a bit in the grind of an NFL practice could theoretically inhibit that while recreating the conditions of a game. It is not just a gimmick, but a way to both encourage proper nutritional consumption and a way to ensure that players are fresh so that practice can be as intense as Kingsbury wants it to be.
“I want to have a quick pause,” Kingsbury said according to CardsWire. “And then, how do we pick up in the second half of practice, coming out of halftime, and finishing practice strong?”
The rigors of an NFL practice can be hard on the body. There is a reason that many players are missing the season before the first snap of the preseason. Proper nutrition and pacing can help inhibit this problem, so this halftime, both as a strategy and an opportunity to fuel up, is not just an excuse to do something.
Whether or not this strategy will run through the season remains to be seen, and perhaps more scientific evidence will come out for or against using the strategy. Whatever happens, Kingsbury is trying something bold and new, and just because it is different, it doesn’t mean that it lacks any warrant.